IF recent events are anything to go by, MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai is increasingly losing control of the party after suffering a devastating defeat on July 31.
Candid Comment Brian Mangwende
His loss ended their slim majority in parliament and dominance of the political landscape when Zanu PF was on the ropes.
After the elections, it has been a downward spiral for Tsvangirai and his party.
Apart from losing control on parliament, the MDC-T has been rocked by infighting and matters got to a head this week when the party’s councillors revolted against his leadership and voted for Zanu PF mayors in local authorities where they had won.
The latest bout of turmoil within the MDC-T, which seems to be shaking Tsvangirai’s leadership to the core, followed attempts to impose unelected individuals, especially in Harare and Bulawayo, as mayors — a move rejected by councillors before their open rebellion showing the party could be gradually disintegrating unless urgent measures are taken to stem the crisis.
If truth be told, this is not entirely surprising. Tsvangirai has been making serious mistakes, both at a strategic and personal level. His bungling got worse when he got into the inclusive government in 2009 where he ended almost breaking ranks with his comrades in his bid to cosy up to President Robert Mugabe.
During his muddling through process, he made scandalous blunders like threatening to use violence to oust Mugabe, the final push, presiding over the MDC split and in his uneasy interactions with regional, African and international community leaders.
Of course, Tsvangirai is a brave and resilient leader and deserves credit for his fight for democracy, but he has this tendency of shooting himself in the foot.
During his four-year stint a the dysfunctional coalition, for instance, he concentrated on enjoying the trappings of power forgetting he was in there to use the reprieve to re-organise himself and the party for electoral battles ahead.
Besides, he took all his best men from the party to government, while doing very little to ensure key issues regarding elections such as voter registration and voters’ roll were attended to. He also allowed corruption to thrive in MDC-T-controlled councils and divided the party through candidate impositions.
While he enjoyed drinking tea with Mugabe, he forgot why he was in the transitional government in the first place, hence his wrong priorities and failure to use that period of relative calm to re-organise and restrategise for polls.
Instead, Tsvangirai was anxiously to placate Mugabe and defended him publicly, which is why he was deceptively rewarded with dubious roles like spokesperson for the principals and the leader in charge of electoral process.
Although at the early stages he resisted Mugabe’s controversial appointments, he later welcomed and justified them.
He went as far as defending the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before it dawned on him he was defending the indefensible.
When Mugabe trounced him, he cried foul, but not many listened as he had been compromised by his role in election preparations.